Press review: Putin, Modi wrap up talks in Moscow and NATO summit to let Kiev down

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrap up talks in Moscow; the West looks for the right way t...


MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrap up talks in Moscow; the West looks for the right way to tell Ukraine it cannot join NATO at the bloc’s summit; and the GOP puts out its foreign policy plan in anticipation of Trump taking the White House. These stories topped Wednesday’s newspaper headlines across Russia.

Media: Putin, Indian PM discuss strategic cooperation, Ukraine crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a strategic cooperation program at their Moscow meeting that will run until the end of the decade. The two countries plan to increase annual trade to $100 bln and enhance cooperation in all areas. The Ukraine crisis was also on the agenda, with Modi reaffirming his country’s willingness to facilitate efforts to resolve the conflict peacefully, Izvestia writes.

The talks focused on trade and economic issues. As things stand now, Moscow and New Delhi must find systemic solutions that will allow them to overcome sanctions barriers, Ajay Dubey, professor at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, said. The BRICS+ group is close to finding some workarounds to carry out trade and financial operations that bypass the still almighty US dollar. India feels a special sense of urgency here and is making every effort to solve the problem, the expert added.

The negotiations did not forget about the Ukrainian conflict. India holds a neutral stance, calling for a diplomatic solution and expressing readiness to support a peace plan that would suit both parties. According to Vladimir Sotnikov, leading researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of China and Modern Asia, India may put forward an initiative to settle the crisis, as the country has a lot of experience in this field, given its complicated relations with neighbors.

That said, India still views the Ukrainian conflict as someone else’s war, with no serious impact on the country, Boris Volkhonsky, associate professor at Moscow State University’s Institute of Asian and African Studies, told Vedomosti. For the sake of international prestige, New Delhi is ready to step up its diplomatic activities but when talking about the crisis, top Indian officials only make token statements about resolving all international conflicts peacefully. In theory, India could host peace talks. "It’s another thing that so far, Kiev has not demonstrated a desire to engage in negotiations. Meanwhile, India and China aren’t the countries to persuade the Ukrainians and put pressure on them," Volkhonsky concluded.

Media: Western leaders prioritize continued aid over NATO inclusion for Ukraine

The NATO summit that kicked off in Washington on July 9 will focus on continued support for Ukraine. However, experts interviewed by Izvestia believe that making Kiev a member of the alliance does not serve the bloc’s interests.

While Ukraine’s NATO membership - which is what the country’s politicians are seeking - looks unrealistic at the moment, reforming the system of allied financial assistance is quite possible, Dmitry Novikov, deputy head of the Laboratory for Political Geography and Contemporary Geopolitics at the Higher School of Economics, pointed out.

"Ukraine may be offered some transitional forms of participation in the Western system of alliances. This is primarily about a set of bilateral defense agreements. However, it’s too early to talk about even that. Active military operations are underway and today, no one will sign any legally binding documents with Kiev. What Ukraine may actually be offered is a change in the system of financial support, which currently consists of occasional aid packages that may or may not be provided," Novikov said.

Ukraine’s full-fledged membership in the North Atlantic Alliance seems unlikely at this point, the analyst went on to say. "The risks from Ukraine’s potential NATO accession are too high, so they are unwilling to poke Russia, a nuclear power. Washington believes that the time is not right for that yet. Besides, they are quite content with Ukraine’s current position as a non-NATO ally with no specific legal obligations, provided that it’s fully dependent on Washington and European allies and serves as an outpost against Russia," Novikov emphasized.

No one is going to invite Ukraine to join NATO, Ivan Skorikov, head of the Ukraine Department at the Institute of CIS Studies, told Vedomosti. In his view, the most that Kiev can expect from the summit is the promise of increased military assistance, supplies of F-16 jets, air defense systems and long-range rockets and missiles. The NATO summit’s main priority is to maintain the current level of military aid to Ukraine ahead of a potential change in the White House administration, Andrey Kortunov, research director at the Russian International Affairs Council, noted. The bloc’s European members are working on a Plan B in case the US starts reducing its activities in Europe, the expert explained.

Vedomosti: GOP eyes Reagan-era foreign policy should Trump take White House

If Donald Trump wins the US presidential election in November, the country must return to the "peace through strength" policy it pursued under President Ronald Reagan. This is according to Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, Vedomosti notes, who said as much speaking to a think tank recently.

Johnson blamed incumbent US President Joe Biden for indulging China and Iran and betraying Israel. Simultaneously, the Republican Party published a draft domestic and foreign policy plan should it win the November presidential and congressional elections. In particular, the plan stipulates revoking China’s most favored nation trading status, stopping the import of crucial goods from China and banning the Chinese from purchasing property and production facilities.

These measures are unlikely to help make the US economy more competitive, private investment consultant Andrey Kochetkov said. Ex-US President Donald Trump’s trade war failed to reduce the deficit or get manufacturing to come back to the US. On the contrary, these restrictions may undermine the competitiveness of US producers on foreign markets because when there is no competition, the quality of goods tends to decrease, the expert explained.

As for Russia, Johnson stated that Moscow’s use of its resources in Ukraine aligned with the US’ long-term interests. Meanwhile, he said earlier that in order to contain Russia, it was important for European allies to create their own defense industry base, so as to reduce their dependence on US support.

It is on the Europeans that Trump and the Republicans would like to shift the lion’s share of costs in the protracted Ukrainian crisis, corresponding member of the Academy of Military Sciences Sergey Sudakov pointed out. The expert explained that the "peace through strength" concept was based on gradually increasing military and economic pressure on the opponent. So the US can be expected to continue sending weapons to Taiwan and Ukraine if the Republican Party secures election victory. "However, US attempts to use concepts similar to the ‘peace through strength’ policy run counter to the logic of the current situation where a multipolar world is emerging," Sudakov concluded.

Izvestia: Georgia's EU aspirations on hold after adoption of foreign agents law

The EU integration process for Georgia, which was granted candidacy status in December 2023, has been stopped, the European Union’s Ambassador to Tbilisi Pawel Herczynski said. According to him, Georgia’s rhetoric amid the approval of a foreign agent law is incompatible with the goal of joining the EU. The funds that were allocated for the Georgian Defense Ministry, have been frozen, Izvestia writes.

Relations between Brussels and Tbilisi soured due to Georgia's passing of the foreign agent law. The document obliges media outlets and non-profit organizations to register in case they receive more than 20% of funding from abroad. If this requirement is not met, fines may be imposed. While the bill was under discussion, the US embassy in Georgia was backing protests in the country, criticizing the ruling Georgian Dream party and stressing that the authorities’ actions were undermining the country’s path to European integration, as well as relations with Washington.

Stanislav Tarasov, Middle East and Caucasus expert, points out that "Georgia has realized the need to search for ‘a security umbrella’ in dialogue with Moscow rather than in relations with the West." According to the analyst, Brussels urged Tbilisi "to open a second front and join sanctions against Russia but failed to offer anything in return."

"The development of trade and economic cooperation brings certain benefits to the Georgian economy, which can be earned on the transit paths that Russia suggests establishing through Georgia as part of the North-South route," Tarasov added. "It’s Russia that is a stable force, as well as China, and perhaps, Arab nations. This guarantees continued regional stability and security and creates conditions for normal development," the political scientist stressed.

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili is trying to assist the West’s attempts to stage a revolution in the country, Mamuka Pipia, international secretary of the Solidarity for Peace party, told Izvestia. "As we have already said, our interests are focused on our neighbors, namely our key economic partners, including Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan," the politician said.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Russian companies eye foreign LNG ventures amid domestic sanctions

Russian oil and gas companies are showing interest in liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects abroad, said experts interviewed by Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Lukoil, Russia’s biggest oil and gas company, is already participating in an LNG project in the Republic of the Congo and reports say that Novatek is interested in LNG ventures in Vietnam.

In a situation where new LNG projects inside Russia fall under US sanctions, investment in overseas production is one way to increase profits. For Russian companies, the goal is to expand their presence on the LNG market and also to bypass certain restrictions. Alexey Grivach, deputy head of the National Energy Security Fund, notes that about one-third of Russia’s sanctioned companies are already involved in such projects.

According to Maria Belova, research director at the Implementa company, it’s no secret that Rosneft studied the possibility of participating in LNG projects in Latin America and, together with ExxonMobil, worked on a project in Mozambique, while Gazprom was in talks with Iran on LNG production in the country. Belova points out that with sanctions in place, the prospects for Russian companies’ participation in overseas LNG projects depend on how friendly the host country is for Moscow and what countries these projects involve.

Energy expert Kirill Rodinov, however, says that Russian companies should not rush to join foreign projects. LNG production is the first industry where sanctions are likely to be lifted in case the political situation improves. Russia has been and remains one of the world’s largest LNG producers, currently fourth globally. If more projects are implemented, the country will only strengthen its position.

Clearly, this requires a lifting of sanctions on the import of LNG production equipment, as well as the removal of overt and covert restrictions on the import of tankers from South Korea, the expert specified. In his view, this may happen as early as in the second half of the 2020s.


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Local Glob: Press review: Putin, Modi wrap up talks in Moscow and NATO summit to let Kiev down
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